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Planet Hollywood

19th November 2019

Your business may not have the profile of a Hollywood film studio but you can still give yourself the Avengers Endgame treatment.

When film studios allocate budgets, they know movie costs will keep rising long after the cameras stop rolling. Marketing expenses routinely run into tens and even hundreds of millions of dollars, and the rewards for successful campaigns are huge. 2019’s most popular film to date, Avengers Endgame, generated over $850 million in the United States and a staggering $2 billion overseas. For an unmistakeably American-centric story packed with American stars, this was quite some achievement. Chinese audiences, who have ignored many recent Hollywood offerings, embraced this one on an unprecedented scale. Over $115 million was spent in advance bookings before the movie even opened, and journalists at special preview screenings reported entire audiences sobbing uncontrollably when leading characters died. In total, Avengers Endgame sold cinema tickets to the value of $614 million in China.

What did the producers get right?

The movie’s posters introduced the characters in a series of clearly defined action shots that were direct, engaging and effective. The title didn’t need to be reworked to appeal to a new audience and the formatting of the text was straightforward. Above all, the heroes of Avengers Endgame were presented to Chinese audiences not as all-conquering American titans, but as plucky underdogs, licking their wounds after a devastating defeat and finding the collective resolve to fight back on behalf of ordinary people everywhere. This underdog spirit struck a chord with Chinese cinemagoers, paving the way not only for record revenue but a genuine cultural phenomenon. The marketing strategy of Marvel Studios was finely tuned to the sensibilities of China’s 1.4 billion people, and they were rewarded with revenue of 4.3 billion Chinese yuan.

What can we learn from this as we reach out to new customers?

A marketing message in a second language needs to consider cultural variations in terminology, phrasing and colloquialism. Symbols, graphics, pictures, colours and general layout must be tested for cultural applicability. Translated text mustn’t expand or contract in a way that impacts on a final presentation.

A message designed to engage the senses will need careful attention. It may well include acronyms and shortcuts that only a skilled linguist will interpret correctly. And when you present yourself and your business in a successful light, be aware that different people have different interpretations of what constitutes admirable conduct.

As we come to the end of 2019, Avengers Endgame stands as the most successful worldwide movie release in history. That didn’t happen by accident and your success won’t happen by accident either. Your products may not have the wow factor of a Hollywood blockbuster, but they'll benefit from the nuanced marketing approach that serves successful movies so well. Engage your audience and give your business the platform it deserves. That's your endgame.


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